The Cavendish Historical Society's accepts tax-deductible contributions to help preserve our history. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org 802-226-7807 or PO Box 472 Cavendish, VT 05142 The CHS Museum is located at 1958 Main Street (Route 131) in Cavendish.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Spring 2017 Newsletter
SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE
We’re hard at work on the
annual plant sale, Saturday, July 2. Once again Svetlana and Kem Phillips have
a new and wonderful plant surprise-chestnut trees. This is an experimental
venture sparked by Wendy Regier who gave them chestnuts to see what they could
do with them. They are in the Phillip’s garden and will be transplanted closer
to the sale.
Informally known as the
“Restoration” chestnut, these trees have enough of the Chinese chestnut’s natural
blight resistance to have a shot at surviving. The tree looks very similar to
the American chestnut. We will provide an opportunity to pre buy closer to the
again there will be patio tomatoes-Brandywine, Roma and Sweet Cherry.It wouldn’t be a plant sale without hosta.
Special thanks to the Tings and Moonlite Meadows Farms for the absolutely best
compost. A list of what we will be offering will soon appear at the CHS blog.
If you have plants you would like to donate for the sale, please contact us at
the numbers above. We can provide soil and pots, and with advanced notice, some
Museum is now open Sundays from 2-4 through Columbus weekend . Visits can be
arranged at other times by contacting CHS. As you drive by, you’ll notice that
work is underway on the door of the Museum. Carl Liener has been lending his
considerable talents to repair the transom over the door and is redoing
signage. Dave Stern is heading up the installation of the new doors, in spite
of a skiing injury.
layout of both of the town’s villages were based on people walking and
traveling by horse. As we speed
by in our cars, we often miss the beauty and
interesting aspects. This year, CHS is offering a series of walking tours to
point out interesting aspects of the villages and the town. The first walk will
be to the Proctorsville Quarry hopefully in July. August will include a walking
tour ofCavendish Village, while the
annual Phineas Gage Walk-N-Talk will be Sept. 10. Columbus weekend, Oct. 8, CHS
will host the Proctorsville ghost walk.
summer is going to involve a lot of planning including preparing for the 100th
anniversary of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s birth in 2018 as well as continuing
restoration of both the Museum and Stone Church. Have some time? We have plenty
of jobs for volunteers.
CARMINE GUICA YOUNG HISTORIANS PROGRAM
Carmine at the book signing of his autobiography
At CHS’s Annual Meeting in March, it was agreed that
the most fitting tribute for Carmine Guica, one of the founders of CHS and an
avid historian, was to rename the Young Historians program in his honor and
work to expand programs. The objective of the CCYHP (Carmine Guica Young Historians
Program)is to offer programs at
Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES), Green Mountain Union High School and
other regional schools so that students will not only know Cavendish’s history
but also develop a sense of stewardship and responsibility for it.
Specific learning objectives
6th graders at the old Fitton Mill.
Peoples: There is strong
archeological evidence that Cavendish was occupied over 11,000 years ago,
including the possibility of an archaic Indian village 5,000-7,000 years ago.
• Culture-People have come to Cavendish from all over the world including:
Africa; Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; China; Czechoslovakia; Denmark; El
Salvador; England; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Holland; Hungary; India;
Ireland; Italy; Japan; Korea; Mexican; Native American; Norway; Philippines;
Poland; Portugal; Rumania; Russia; Scotland; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland;
Turkish; Ukraine; Yugoslavia; Wales. Special programs, such as St. Patrick’s
Day, and Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) are ways to teach students about
other cultures and the influence they’ve had on Cavendish history
• Civics/Stewardship Students are involved in a number of civic projects
including RiverSweep, where they learn the role the Black River played in
forming the town and well as clean a beach that dates back to the mid 1850s.
Other projects include cleaning gravestones; placing flags on veterans’ graves;
making poppies for Memorial Day. As a result of the CHS programs, Cavendish has
a lower incidence of youth vandalism.
• Cavendish’s Role in World Affairs: While many know of Phineas Gage
and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, fewer are aware of Nettie Stevens who was born in
Cavendish and went on to do the research crucial in determining that an
organism's sex was dictated by its chromosomes rather than environmental or other factors. Cavendish played an interesting
role in the abolitionist era, as well as the Revolutionary War.
•Agricultural to Industrial to Digital:
With the passing centuries, Cavendish has gone from an agrarian culture, with
small businesses to support them, to the industrial age with the development of
the woolen mills and other manufacturing companies (e.g. cheese, chair, potato
starch factories) to digital with its proliferation of small home based
businesses and telecommuters. Through various programs and books, we show them
what was as well as opportunities for the future.
CAVENDISH WOOLEN MILLS PART III
I of the Cavendish Woolen Mills timeline appeared in the Scribbler II Summer
2016, while Part II is in the Winter 2017 edition. Both newsletters are
available on-line at the CHS blog. See header for link. This issue covers 1938
to present day.
1938: On December 31,
Proctorsville village purchased the Black River Mill building for $1,000
plus$800 back taxes. The equipment was auctioned off.
1937 and 1938 were bad times for the woolen mills. Many mills in Ludlow were
closed for months at a time and Gay Brothers for shorter periods. When the
mills did get orders, they asked the workers to take heavy cuts in their wages.
They were competing with cheaper labor in the south. The workers didn’t
necessarily agree instead blaming troubles with the union and strikes as the
cause for the downfall of the Black Bear Woolen Mill. Workers at Gay Brothers
said they would accept cuts in pay if the mill would become a “closed shop.”
1939: The Gay Brothers business had
picked up sufficiently that they purchased the VerdMont Mill on Main St. Ludlow
and renamed it Gaymont. The Vermont Tribune reported, The woolen mill industry in the Black River Valley is running at
capacity speed with two of the mills on a 24 hour basis, ...Gaymont Mill is now
equipped with modern machines with three shifts. Gay Brothers has 262 workers
1941: Gay Brothers signed a union
contract Local 261 of the Textile Workers Union of America.
Proctor Reel and Shook company moved from New Jersey to the former location of
the Black Bear Mill.
1942: The Town Report states that
Gay Brothers are..”the chief war industry
of our town...where 300 people work producing 30,000 yards of woolen blankets,
Navy uniform cloth and Khaki flannels each week for the United States Government...In
addition to the war materials produce, the plant flies the Minute Man Flag...Thirty-seven
of the works are serving in the Armed Forces.” Because of the high demand,
all of the high school students over 16 were asked to work at the mill whenever
possible and many of the remaining men in town would work second or third shift
in addition to their regular jobs. The
mills flourished with contracts for Navy overcoats, khaki material and
blankets, 200,000 of which went to ships which transported troops. One very
famous ship, the Queen Mary, received some 10,000 of the mill’s blankets as she
had been converted into a fast troop carrier ferrying the Atlantic. Blankets
also went to war workers, the Maritime Commission, and to other organizations
under the “Lend-Lease” Program. Some blankets and uniform cloth even went to
1948: Gay Brothers agreed with the
union on a contract giving the workers a .15¢ an hour increase, a minimum wage
of $1.05 an hour, six paid holidays and hospital benefits. There was a
no-strike clause and no pension plan. Reports appear in the Rutland Herald that
the Gay Brothers Mill is to be sold to Ames Worsted Company of Lowell, Ma. This
was not true.
Post WWII (1946-1950): Business was very poor for
mills all over New England in the late 1940s.Moreover, not all the veterans
were content to return to the mills. Some had found the mills to be noisy and
dirty; others disliked being kept inside all day, preferring outside work
1950: Gaymont Mills in Ludlow,
owned by the Gay Brothers, is sold to ten Ludlow businessmen, who sell the
building to General Electric in 1951.
Rutland Railroad declares bankruptcy further reducing passenger service in
1951: The Gay Brothers sell the
mill to F.C. Hyuck and Sons, who rename it Kenwood Mills. The reasons given for
the closure included; the rising price of wool, the use of synthetic fabrics
and the concentration of the woolen business into a few large corporations.
Many textile mills had left New England and moved South where there was cheaper
labor. Though not mentioned by the Gays, others believe that “”trouble with the
unions” was a contributing factor.
• General Electric opens
in Ludlow in the Gaymont Mill building. Offering good benefits andchances for advancement, many former Gay Brothers
employees go to work for GE.
1955: Kenwood Mills made blankets
and employed 270 people on two shifts.
1956: Proctor Reel relocates to Massachusetts.
The building is purchased by Acousti Phase.
1957: Kenwood Mills closes.
Cavendish is no longer a mill town.
1962 Mack Molding purchases the
Gay/Kenwood Mills building and continues to use it for injection plastic
Proctorsville revitalizing projects undertaken. With matching funds and in-kind
matches provided by the Town and the private sector, the Town was able to
change the vacant Proctorsville mill site into a handsome, well-designed
village green with recreational space. Affordable housing is strategically
placed adjacent to the green with the move of the historic Freeman House from
next to the Cavendish Pointe Hotel to the Green in 1997.
2017: Murdock’s on the Green pub
opens in one of the former Proctorsville Mill buildings. The building adjacent
to Murdock’s has been sold and plans are for a brewery and a tasting room/pub.
BECOME A MEMBER, RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP,
you have not joined the Cavendish Historical Society, need to renew your
membership, and/or would like to be a volunteer, please complete the form below
and sending a check, payable to CHS, to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142.
All contributions are tax deductible.